Search engine Justdial, owned by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, is in trouble in Delhi.
Justdial provides search-related services to users across India through multiple platforms such as websites, apps, over the telephone, and text messages.
On Nov. 8, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to the online portal over its alleged role in “promoting” sex and prostitution rackets. The statutory body under the local government has also notified the city joint commissioner of police (crime) about a case filed in the matter.
“The blatancy and impunity with which prostitution rackets are operating in the capital are shocking. We have summoned Justdial to investigate their role in the matter and have also issued a notice to Delhi police,” said DCW chief Swati Maliwal.
Maliwal took to her Twitter account to narrate the incident that led to the action. Her team, she said, reached out to Justdial for information on spas in Delhi. What the team received, instead, was at least 32 WhatsApp messages, 15 phone numbers, and photos of over 150 young women with their “prices.”
While Justdial hasn’t reacted to the row, Reliance Industries declined to comment for this report.
The controversy has broken merely months after Reliance completed its acquisition of Justdial.
In one of its largest acquisitions and as an effort to strengthen its digital presence, Reliance in July had announced to buy a 67% stake in Justdial for around $700 million (5222.8 crore rupees). The deal was expected to help Reliance leverage Justdial’s database of 30.4 million listings and its existing consumer traffic of 129.1 million quarterly unique users.